Thursday, September 04, 2003Moving On
Well, I'm in the process of moving over to TypePad. From now on, I'll be posting at http://joyfulchristian.blogs.com/.
Things that make you go hmm...
I ordered Babylon 5: Season 2 a couple of days ago. I live in Oklahoma. The package was shipped from Anaheim, California. I just checked the UPS tracking and discovered that the package is currently in Ontario. Go figure.
Update - Steve e-mailed me to let me know that there is an Ontario, California, which also happens to be a major UPS hub. That certainly makes more sense.
The Age-Old Problem
I found this question posted by Guy at a new blog called Damascus Road:
I fully understand the reasons for his frustration. I don't pretend to know what the long-term results would be if conservative Republicans refused to vote for liberal Republicans. In the short-term, I think that there's very little doubt that the Dems would start winning elections. There are really two questions here. The first is, "Would a massive protest at the ballot box that resulted in Democratic victories convince Republicans to move back to the right?" The second question is, "If this would actually work, would it be worth the short-term sacrifice to achieve this long-term gain?"
No, George Bush is not equivalent to Hitler, says Jonah Goldberg, and no amount of screaming can make it so:
Read the whole thing.
As a reminder
Burma is still holding political dissident Aung San Suu Kyi in "protective custody". In this case, they're protecting themselves from anything she might have to say. They arrested her and, according to Amnesty International, about 100 other people back in May. The U.S. embassy says they've received information that she's on a hunger strike, but that's difficult to confirm.
There are a couple of things that really concern me. The first is that while news organizations were all over this the first few days after she disappeared, this is the first story I've seen on the issue in the last 6 weeks or so. Sure, I've been out of commission during part of that time, but you'd think this would rate higher. Why has the news media not been playing this up more?
The other really bizarre part of this story comes from this quote:
Rangoon's foreign ministry issued a statement calling the hunger strike claim "groundless," a denial repeated by an official at the Burmese Embassy in Canberra, Australia Thursday.
The government is holding a political prisoner without charges for several months, they haven't allowed any international organization to see her in weeks, and now there are rumors that she's on a hunger strike. Yet, somehow, the government thinks it will make them look better to also point out that she's being held at a secret location. ??????????????
This is a bad situation. Someone needs to do something and that's only likely to happen if the press makes a big enough stink. Given that, why has the press been relatively silent on the issue? Is it just that no one can find a way to blame this on Bush? Does no one care becaause Burma isn'ta "sexy" enough part of the world? Is it because her people aren't being "persecuted by the EVIL JEWSTM. I don't have a clue, but regardless, the lack of journalistic interest doesn't sit well with me.
Update-For full disclosure, I've got to admit that I'm pretty upset with myself for letting this one slide as of late.
Eric Estrada has removed himself from consideration as an appellate judge.'
Correction - I got an e-mail from Ron who pointed out that it was Miguel, not Eric, Estrada who withdrew his name from consideration. That was a pretty pathetic mistake on my part. Sorry.
Joshua Claybourn poins out that he didn't see any death-penalty opponents at the Paul Hill execution and wonders why that is?
Wednesday, September 03, 2003Admitting your wrong
And how, exactly, is he planning to pay for that?
I just saw a Howard Dean add in which he pledges that if he's elected President, ever American is going to have health insurance. I shutter to think where he's going to find the money for that plan.
I actually think this is an easy call
The Sixth clearly demands a jury for criminal trials. I don't think that demand ends once the guilty verdict has been reached, especially when you consider the demand for due process. Of course, if you use my logic, imprisonments aren't allowed under the Constitution either. I've not read the SCOTUS opinion, but I don't think it's an unreasonable decision in principle.
Oops. Dr. Byron pointed out to me that I was looking at the Fifth, not the Sixth. I don't know what I was thinking.
Libraries in Cuba
The Kansas City Star has in intriguing story about a Cuban refugee who was forced to flee the country after trying to start an independent library.
Here was, to me, the sad part:
Cuban authorities, not surprisingly, saw Colas' efforts on the island as a counterrevolutionary ploy that enjoyed covert U.S. backing.
What? Why, exactly, did our government deny involvement? Either our government has actually refused to help these brave people, or it doesn't want to be associated with them. In either case, I'm ashamed. Ideas are one of the most powerful things in the world. Our government should be helping these people and it shouldn't make any apologies for doing so.
CK Rairden explains what's wrong with the Democratic Party:
Read the rest.
Theosebes explains what's wrong with killing abortion doctors.
Claybourn rounds up stupidity
They won't listen ...
...they never do.
David Frum has some advice for CNN.
David Heddle takes on a couple of really difficult passages. His conclusions seem to be generally reasonable. I'd try to add my thoughts, but I'd doubt it would do any good; I've got to admit that try as I might, I really don't understand either passage very well.
Johnny Depp shoots his mouth off
Oh, isn't this cute:
Well, he would know, wouldn't he? Still, this seems to be at least one celebrity who's keeping his word and staying out of the country.
Update - Rachel Lucas adds her two cents in her own indubitable style.
Wolfy on Iraq
Meanwhile, back at the ranch ...
While people continue to carp about how world opinion is against our actions in Iraq, Poland, leading a 17 nation force, has taken control of south-central Iraq.
Tuesday, September 02, 2003AHH!
I hate slow news days. Just thougth I'd share. I suppose I could actually go looking for interesting news that didn't show up in my usual rounds, but I didn't get to sleep until after 5 this morning. (Yeah, that was fun.) More later.
Missed this one
While I was trying to suppress my wonderfully horrible headaches, I missed this post by Philip Murphy about the continuing inability of Europeans to understand American thinking.
I won't deny that I am totally incapable of understanding the prevailing political thought in most European countries; in fact, it often appears to me that they are living in a fantasy land. As Murphy points out, the reverse is also true; Europeans don't get us either.
The difference is that most Europeans, at least the ones who make the most noise, seem quite confident that they understand American political thought and therefore know conclusively that we are wrong. On the other hand, most Americans simply don't seem to care what the Europeans think at all.
The result, I think, is that the rift between America and the (non-English speaking) rest of The West, will continue to widen.
I needed a good laugh
North Korea announces six-way talks with self
I'm not sure this one actually qualifies as satire.
Frank J. has posted some of his poll results. I've got a problem with the Iron Man v. Green Lantern pie eating contest; he forgot to take into account the month when Marvel and DC published comics for the Amalgamated Universe. That month Iron Man and Green Lantern were merged into the new hero "Iron Lantern." Wouldn't that screw the whole thing up?
Yes, I have no life.
The French have a problem
... but Misha's solution seems a tad extreme. Maybe.
Glad he filled us in
[sarcasm]Hey, did you know John Kerry served in Vietnam?[/sarcasm]
But of course, you already knew this rule, didn't you?
It's for THE CHILDREN TM!
Rich Lowry argues that runaway immigration seriously damages the interest of low income wage earners.
Heddle is, unsurprisingly, talking about Calvinism again
Specifically, he's talking about the doctrine of Total Depravity:
Today I just want to point out quickly (what many others have already pointed out) that in fact there is just one point of Calvinism: Total Depravity. From that one doctrine, all the other four are natural consequences.
I think there can be little doubt that Total Depravity is the cornerstone around which Calvinism is built. If you remove that doctrine, Calvinism doesn't really make a lot of sense.
However, I can't agree with David about the nature of depravity however. Any one who tries to argue that we are not all depraved and, therefore, all sinners, has got to throw out tons of scripture. Try as I might though, anytime I examine the scriptures that Calvinists put forward as justifying their doctrine of Total Depravity, I just can't see it. I don't want to examine them at this time; I just want to state that I am simply incapable of seeing what they see when looking at the same passages. I don't even know why this might be, but I do know that many times a Calvinist has put forward a few scriptures to me on this topic and not even tried to explain why they believed those verses supported their doctrine. This was not, I might add, because they were using poor debate techniques; rather they clearly believed that the verses stated their position so clearly that no explanation was needed whatever.
This has been the point of endless frustration to me. In fact, any time somebody I respect points out evidence to support a position I hold and I simply cannot see what they see, I am terribly frustrated. The reason for this is that I know that we are unlikely to ever agree on the topic. Disagreement is unlikely in these cases, not because we are having a disagreement about logic, but about fact. If I believed the same facts they do, their conclusions would be perfectly reasonable; since I don't see the same facts that they do, it is highly unlikely that we will ever agree about the conclusions that those facts are based on.
David also had this to say about God's sovereignty:
Interestingly, the other four points do not have to be merely accepted as consequences of Total Depravity. They can be postulated as stand alone doctrines and then independently supported in scripture. To me, this is one of the great comforts of the doctrines of grace and sovereignty. If the bible proclaims Total Depravity, then our only hope is Unconditional Election (predestination). Anything else and all man are damned. Lo and behold, that is what the scriptures teach. And if scripture teaches Unconditional Election, them it had better teach Irresistible Grace otherwise the whole system collapses on itself since, without Irresistible Grace, man can thwart God's plan, rendering Him sovereign no more.
This is one of the major problems I have with Calvinism. It seems, to me at least, that Calvinist do not give God's sovereignty nearly enough credit. My view of God's omnipotence is, I would say, more robust. I believe that scripture irrefutably teaches both the Free Will of man and the total omnipotence of God. Therefore, I believe God allows man to have absolute control over his actions, but He has structured the universe in such a way that He will always know which decision the man would make at any given time. In this way, God's will always be done through man's absolute Free Will. (I've previously referred to this concept as Temporal Engineering.)
I have another problem with Calvinism which is more general and not reserved solely for that system of doctrine. The problem is that it is, in fact, a system. David has frequently referred to me as an Arminian; I am not. It may be true that many of my views line up with the Arminian system of doctrine, but I no more subscribe to Arminianism than I do to Calvinism.
The reason for this is that I reject, on principle, the whole notion of systematic theology. When I read scripture, I find a great number of apparent paradoxes. So many, in fact, that if I did not believe that there was clear and convincing evidence of The resurrection, I would probably have rejected Christianity outright. Because I do believe in The Resurrection, I accept the doctrinal teachings in scripture to be true. Once I accept them as true, I also accept the idea that these apparent paradoxes must not, in fact, be contradictions even though they appear to be. I believe this to be true even if I can find no convincing reconciliation of these different doctrines.
If I were to attempt to fit these apparent contradictions into any system of theology, I would be forced to accept one or the other of the paradoxical doctrines in order to make my system flow in a rational manner. Because I believe them both to be true, I find this unacceptable. Instead, I evaluate each doctrine based on the scriptures that teach it independently of any other doctrine.
I should clarify that it is my belief that I do this not because I believe that these doctrines are truly contradictory, but because I believe the minds of mankind are too puny to resolve the conflict. When the end of time comes and we live in full communion with God, we will understand the resolution of the conflict.
It's not that I don't believe that scripture lays out a systematic theology; I just don't believe Fallen Man is capable of understanding the system.
Lewis's response was that it was not a difference in morality at all; it was a difference in fact. We don't burn witches, he argued, because we don't believe there is such a thing. (At least not in the sense that the people in Salem used that word.) He pointed out that if you believed that someone had sold their soul to the devil in order to gain unholy powers which they used to torment others, and further believed that the only way to save these peoples' souls was to purify their bodies through fire, then it is perfectly sensible to burn such people at the stake. We don't burn such people because we do not believe any, or at least most, of these "facts" to be true.